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Biology News 2009-2010 Academic Year

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Summer 2010

Jennifer Dechaine (Biological Sciences/Science Education) received an USDA Biotechnology Risk Assessment Grant in collaboration with University of Georgia and Luther College titled "A multigenerational assessment of the fate and impact of crop gene introgression into wild sunflower." Funding for CWU is for three years for a total of $79,169.

Jennifer Dechaine (Biological Sciences/Science Education) had an article published in the journal Molecular Ecology titled "Ecological Patterns and Genetic Analysis of Post-dispersal Seed Predation in Sunflower (Helianthus annuus) Crop-wild Hybrids." Co-authors were Jutta Burger (Irvine Ranch Conservancy) and John Burke (University of Georgia). The article is Vol. 19, August 2010, pages 3477-3488.

Dr. Blaise Dondji, Biology Faculty, is the lead author of a recently published paper entitled "CD4+ T Cells mediate mucosal and systemic immune responses to experimental hookworm infection" in Parasite Immunology, 2010, 32: 406-413.

Biology graduate student Miao Gao and Biology faculty member Ian Quitadamo attended the AAAS Conference - Pacific Division AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) conference in June. The theme for the meeting this year was The Art of Science. Miao received a second place in the Sectional Awards and also received the Rita W. Peterson Divisional Award for her poster titled "Using Inquiry to Foster Student Critical Thinking and Content Knowledge in Undergraduate Fundamental Biology". The Rita W. Peterson Award was established for Science Education in 2002 and is the newest of the Pacific Division's student awards. It was established through a generous donation by Rita W. Peterson, former President of the Pacific Division, to honor an outstanding student presentation in an appropriate educational field.

Image of Miao Gao at AAAS Conference 2010.

Biology graduate student Miao Gao at the AAAS Conference.


Spring 2010

Image of Blaise Dondji, Amanda Berndt and Stephanie Moesch at SOURCE 2010.

Blaise Dondji, Amanda Berndt and Stephanie Moesch at SOURCE 2010.

Pictured with Dr. Dondji are Amanda L. Berndt and Stephanie M. Moesch. Biology undergraduate students Amanda L. Berndt, Stephanie M. Moesch, and Sarah E. McNutt, who work in Blaise Dondji's research lab, received an award for Outstanding Poster Presentation at SOURCE 2010.

Lucinda Carnell, Biology, and Carin Thomas, Chemistry, have been funded by NIH for a 3-year grant titled "High fat diet and deficient antioxidant status as contributing factors to mitochondrial dysfunction in C. elegans: implications for the onset of type 2 diabetes". Drs. Carnell and Thomas will be studying the effects of saturated and unsaturated fat diets and investigating the role of the mitochondrial protein, NNT, on mitochondrial function using the nematode C. elegans. C. elegans is an established model for examining mitochondrial function and its physiological consequences.

Kori Ault, Biology graduate student, will be working for Oregon State University this summer in a joint project with the USGS and the Oregon Department of Forestry doing amphibian stream surveys in the Trask waterhshed. Kori recently defended her graduate research work with her presentation titled "Amphibian Saprolegniasis: a genetic comparison of water mold diversity".

Biology faculty Blaise Dondji recently co-authored a paper with his colleagues from Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT. The paper entitled "Murine Visceral Leishmaniasis: IgM and polyclonal B-cell activation lead to disease exacerbation" was published in the European Journal of Immunology, 2010, Issue 5, 1355-1368.

The 2010 Dumas Lecture Series, named in honor of the late Dr. Phil Dumas who was a Biology faculty member and CWU administrator in the mid-1960's until 1989, was organized by Biology faculty member David Darda. Guest speaker for the series was Dr. David B. Wake, a distinguished evolutionary biologist from the University of California, Berkeley, who visited the CWU campus on April 19th and 20th. In his April 19th lecture, "Darwin's Species: A Modern Perspective from Studies of a Salamander Ring-species", Dr. Wake discussed his long-term studies on the ensatina salamander species complex found in Washington, Oregon, and California. These salamanders present an unusual geographic distribution that has allowed insights into the process of species formation. The Dumas Lecture was given on April 20th when Dr. Wake presented "Amphibians: Harbingers of a Sixth Extinction?" In this presentation, Dr. Wake discussed the decline in world-wide amphibian populations, a phenomenon that has prompted much herpetological research. The Dumas Lecture Series was sponsored by the CWU Department of Biological Sciences. Image of Drs. Darda, Wake and Wagner.

Image of Drs. Darda, Wake and Wagner.

Image of Dr. Dave Darda, Dr. David Wake and Dr. Steve Wagner.

Robin McGinnis, who received her BA in Biology Winter 2010, has been accepted into the University of Washington School Of Dentistry. Robin is one of eight students to have been chosen for the University of Washington's RIDE (Regional Initiatives in Dental Education) program. She will spend her first year of dental school in Spokane.

Biology graduate student Wenbin Mei has been accepted into the Ph.D. program in the Department of Biology at University of Florida. Wenbin received a four-year Graduate Fellowship and will begin his studies in mid-August.

Biology faculty member Dave Darda has had a paper, "Observations by a university anatomy teacher and a suggestion for curricular change: integrative anatomy for undergraduates", published in the March/April 2010 issue of the journal Anatomical Sciences Education (Anat Sci Educ 3:73-76). The paper is the featured article for the issue, and Dr. Darda and his students are pictured on the journal cover.

Fall 2009 and Winter 2010

Several Biology faculty members and graduate students attended the annual meeting of the Society for Northwest Vertebrate Biology in Medford, Oregon, February 22-26th. The topic this year was "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes: The Changing Climate of Science and Policy". On Monday, Biology faculty member Kris Ernest presented "Monitoring Pikas and Pika Habitat Along the I-90 Corridor East of Snoqualmie Pass, WA" during the Transportation and Wildlife Issues Symposium. At the same session, Biology graduate student Jaime Lamperth presented "An Assessment of Stream Habitat and Fish Passage Across Interstate 90 at Snoqualmie Pass, WA" and Biology graduate student Michelle Lester presented her research "Western Toad Movement Corridors: What's Hot and What's Not". 

On Friday, Biology graduate student Amber Palmeri-Miles presented "Field Observations of Oviposition and Development of the Coastal Tailed Frog" and also presented a poster by the same title.

Image of Amber Palmeri-Miles at SNVB 2010.

Amber Palmeri-Miles at SNVB 2010.

Biology graduate student Brandon Fessler presented his research in a poster titled "Geospatial Model of Amphibian Movement Across the I-90 Snoqualmie Pass Corridor of the Central Washington Cascades".

Image of Brandon Fessler at SNVB 2010.

Brandon Fessler at SNVB 2010.

Biology faculty member Steve Wagner was the banquet speaker with a presentation of his sabbatical work "Wild Primates and Crazy herps: Natural History and Conservation in Asia". Steve Wagner was recognized at the banquet for his commitment to SNVB and for his student mentoring, having more student presenters than any other faculty member. His award was presented by Dr. Robert Weaver, a CWU 2006 Biology graduate student and a WSU Doctor of Philosophy graduate (March 1, 2010). Michelle Lester was awarded best Master's student presentation and was also quoted in Southern Oregon's New Source Mail Tribune in their coverage of the conference.

Ryan Scheffelmaier has been accepted into the College of Pharmacy program at Washington State University. He will begin the four year program in August. Ryan will receive a BA in Biology and a BS in Biochemistry in June, 2010.

Biology graduate student Allison Johnson attended the annual meeting of the Society for Ecological Restoration Northwest (SERNW) held February 16th -18th. SERNW, a branch of the Society of Ecological Restoration International, is a group who sponsors a variety of research from burrowing owls in the shrub steppe to riparian restoration. Allison's most recent graduate research has been aided by a $1000.00 grant from SERNW, which was recognized at the conference with an award. At the conference of 450 attendees, Allison gave an oral presentation titled "Terrestrial and Marine Food Subsidy to Salmonids: A Stable Isotope Study in the upper Yakima River Basin". Alli also received an honorable mention for her oral presentation.

Biology faculty member Holly Pinkart attended the 2010 Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers Annual Meeting in Kennewick, WA (Feb 3-5). The results of Dr. Pinkart's research was shared in two presentations titled "Fault Trek: The Wrath of pH" by Holly Pinkart, Anne Johansen, Sara Rybka, Celia Fiola, and Amy Mumma and "Wine Fault Ecology: Lactic Acid Bacteria" by Kyle Larson and Holly Pinkart. Congratulations to Biology undergraduate Kyle Larsonwho won 3rd place for student presentations!

Dave Darda presented "Vertebrate Morphology in the Biology Curricula of Four-year Colleges and Comprehensive Universities: Observations, Data, and a Suggestion" at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology held in Seattle in January.

Owen Forsman has been accepted into the Physical Therapy program at the University of South Carolina and will begin the DPT program this fall. Owen will receive his BA in Biology in June, 2010.

The eighteenth regional conference on undergraduate research sponsored by the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust was held on October 30-31st at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. Several CWU students participating in the Science Honors Program (SHP) presented posters on research they had conducted throughout the summer. Biology undergraduate Steve Chrisman, who works for Biology faculty member Lucinda Carnell, presented an oral presentation titled "Analysis of the electrotaxis behavior in C.elegans". The Murdock Charitable Trust provides an opportunity for undergraduate students to a conduct research projects and present their results at the annual conference, which is hosted by different Pacific Northwest colleges or universities funded by the trust. Dr Audrey Huerta, the Central Washington University SHP director, as well as some of the faculty advisors also attended the conference.

Image of Lucinda Carnell and Steve Chrisman at the Murdock regional conference.

Dr. Lucinda Carnell and Steve Chrisman at the Murdock Regional Conference.

Faculty members Blaise Dondji, Gabrielle Stryker, graduate student Evan Neumann, and undergraduate Michael Wilson attended the Rocky Mountain Conference of Parasitologists, September 10 - 12, 2009, at Heart Six Guest Ranch in Moran, Wyoming. Michaels' poster presentation was titled, "Behavioral Changes in Hamsters Infected with the Hookworm Ancylostoma ceylanicum" and Evan's oral presentation was titled, "Identifying the Subcellular Location of the PFR5 and PFR6 Proteins".

Image of Biology members attending conference in Wyoming

Drs. Blaise Dondji and Gabrielle Stryker with students Evan Neumann and Michael Wilson at the Rocky Mountain Conference of Parasitologists.

Biological Sciences Professor Steve Wagner recently co-authored a paper with international colleagues entitled "Molecular phylogeny and genetic identification of populations of two species of Feirana Frogs (Amphibia: Anura, Ranidae, Dicroglossinae, Paini) Endemic to China" published in Zoological Science, Vol. 26: 500-509 (2009). This work resulted from Dr. Wagner's invitation to conduct research with Herpetologists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Chengdu.

Biological Sciences graduate student Jack Lester and Biology Professor Steve Wagner recently co-authored a paper with CWU Anthropology (Lori Sheeran) and Psychology (Maureen McCarthy, Megan Matheson) colleagues entitled "Sequences of Tibetan Macaque (Macaca thibetana) and Tourist Behaviors at Mt. Huangshan, China" published in Primate Conservation 2009 Vol. 24. Field work for this paper was conducted during the CWU International Biodiversity and Conservation Field School in Huangshan China.